The High Administrative Court of Egypt has just ruled in favor of banning the wearing of the niqab by the teaching staff of Cairo University, at the end of a 5-year judicial soap opera.
Nothing should affect the interactions between students and their teachers. This is essentially the message that the Egyptian justice system wanted to send back by refusing the dismissal on appeal of 80 members of the staff of Cairo University, in a case that dates back to 2015.
At the time, the trial against the niqab was politically motivated. If the ban had never come into force at that time, today the Egyptian authority of the state commissioners persists and signs by recommending that it should remain in force. However, in 2019, this same authority rejected a lawsuit demanding a ban on women wearing the niqab in public places as a matter of personal freedom.
Sanctuarizing the university
So it is really a question of the institution and what the university embodies for young people. According to article 96 of the Universities Regulation Act of 1972, “members of the teaching staff must adhere to the traditions and legitimate values of the university and endeavor to inculcate them in students. They must establish and maintain direct communication with students and deal with their social, cultural and sporting affairs”. According to the court, the wearing of the niqab contravenes this law.
Installing change in continuity
The question that remains is about the future. This is not the first time this has happened. According to the Associated Press, the university had already banned students and staff from wearing the niqab on campus and in dormitories in 2009. A ban was lifted in 2010 by a Cairo court after a professor filed a complaint against the university.
Overall, the country is now in the midst of a relatively heated public debate, oscillating between advocates for a ban on full-face veils in all public spaces, and niqab advocates who argue for individual freedom.